49ers parking plan for soccer fields leaves Santa Clara parents angry
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KTVU) -- Two Santa Clara City Council leaders made a bold move Tuesday night to halt a planned closed session discussion on a controversial parking proposal by the San Francisco 49ers that would use three soccer fields near Levi's Stadium.
The decision came after two hours of heated and emotional comments from angry soccer moms and dads as well as coaches and players.
About 200 people, including many children, held signs before the meeting.
"There was a promise made a couple years ago and we were all supporters of the stadium that the kids eventually would have a new location and a place to play," said mother Elyse Weiland of Campbell.
"Build the facility, move us over there. Don't just put some deposit down or whatever this deal is and displace the kids and hope somehow the plan works out," said Gabe Foo with the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League.
Inside the meeting, there was so much interest that firefighters had to monitor the crowd to not exceed the number of people allowed by the fire code.
At the heart of the debate is three soccer fields located on 11 acres next to Levi's Stadium. The 49ers want to use the fields for parking starting in 2017 and pay $15 million in rent plus $3 million to the School District, money they suggest would help provide soccer fields elsewhere.
"The truth is you're not living up to your promise," Tino Silva, the President of the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League told the council.
"I understand there are people who feel we have been disingenuous because we did not expect several years ago to make a proposal like the one we are making today," said 49ers Chief Operating Officer Al Guido.
For two hours, dozens of soccer moms, dads, players and coaches took to the podium to demand the proposal be stopped.
"I see that as a big middle finger to all of Santa Clara," said Santa Clara resident Hosam Haggag.
"It's people fed up with giveaways from this City Council. It's not going to happen again," said Council Member Lisa Gillmor.
Gillmore directly called out Mayor Jamie Matthews and called the 49ers proposal "cloaked in secrecy."
"You didn't connect with anybody in the community including your colleagues up here with this proposal," said Gillmore while addressing the Mayor.
"When the proposal came to me informally, I knew I had to bring the formal proposal through the 49ers directly to the council so we could have a discussion about it," countered Mayor Matthews.
In the end, after the city council decided to cancel the planned closed session to discuss the proposal and further review the proposal in a committee.
"There's a win-win situation for everyone. We're going to work with the community as we always have to find that win-win," said Guido.